Founder & Chairman

Desmond Kuek

Desmond Kuek has had the privilege of leading at the pinnacles of the corporate world, public sector and military service over a career span of more than 35 years, and has helmed people and organisations through crises and transformative times.  He is currently Divisional Vice Chairman for Global Wealth Management at UBS, the world's largest private bank. 

At SMRT Corporation, he steered the company on a path of sustainable growth and system renewal, turning the company around in operational performance and service quality.  He successfully privatised the company in an effort that was affirmed by Asset Triple-A as the Best Privatisation M&A Deal in 2016. Under his watch, SMRT won numerous human resource, public relations, service excellence and corporate governance awards. He was awarded “Executive of the Year” by Singapore Business Review in 2016.


As Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment & Water Resources, he spearheaded efforts to enhance Singapore’s high quality of living and environmental sustainability. He also led a whole-of-Government project effort to usher a new wave of public sector transformation to establish a more relational model of governance, forge greater synergy across agencies, and grow Government’s resilience and capacity to be future-ready.  


As Singapore’s sixth Chief of Defence Force, he led a massive change effort to build an integrated network-enabled capability for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). During his command, he was responsible for the largest number of overseas operational deployments in the history of the SAF.  He is a firm believer in people development, and introduced numerous innovative HR schemes that helped to nurture a committed people high in professionalism, pride and morale.

He served as a Board Member on the Housing & Development Board, International Enterprise Singapore, Jurong Town Corporation, Defence Science & Technology Agency, Civil Service College, Singapore Technologies Engineering and its subsidiaries: the Advisory Board of SAP Asia Pacific & Japan; and is the Senior Advisor to Toyota Tsusho Asia Pacific.  

Desmond holds a Master of Arts (Engineering Science) from Oxford University, a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, and is a graduate of IMD Switzerland. He received his military training in Singapore where he topped both the Company and Battalion Tactics Courses, in the United States Army Infantry School where he was awarded the Distinguished Allied Leadership Graduate, and at the United Kingdom Army Staff College. He was conferred Datuk Paduka Seri by the Sultan of Brunei; holds prestigious military awards from France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States of America; and was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2002 and the Meritorious Service Medal in 2009 by the Government of Singapore.